The Royal Canadian Mint has become much more than a creator and distributor of Canadian daily coinage. In addition to special orders for foreign governments, transit authorities, etc., it has expanded offerings to the world of coin collectors and investors, in Canada and beyond.
As anyone can tell you who has been on a tour of the RCM’s location near downtown Ottawa, its history of producing coins and tokens goes back decades, with over 130 foreign orders to date. While the RCM in Winnipeg is responsible for producing regular circulation coins, the collectables (at least, the vast majority) are produced in Ottawa.
The RCM has clearly taken advantage of marketing through its website to greatly increase exposure to collectors of its class of ‘atypical assets’ (coins were part of a series of posts last year under the title ‘The Art of Collecting’). The website is further supported by booklets issued to collectors in concert with new releases, and in recent times expanded distribution through Canada Post (via its website and postal outlets). Moreover, there is more proactive advertising, via television, print, and at times even radio.
If one researches the development of this moneymaking side of the RCM, the first leap seems to have begun with specimen sets of circulation coins. This goes back to the RCM’s inception in 1908. However, it was only in 1981 that the RCM began offering proof quality sets.
Probably two product expansions have been most demonstrable in putting the RCM more seriously on the larger scale collecting map:
- The issuance of the 125th anniversary of Confederation quarters in 1992, with twelve facings for each of the provinces and (at the time) two territories; this picked up speed with special Millennium editions in 1999 and 2000, followed by an additional set leading to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics
- The most dramatic evolution has been triggered by RCM leading technology such as with colour infused coins, essentially coincident with the new Millennium; moreover, the innovations have expanded even more creatively; for example, the RCM was the first Mint in the world to produce glow-in -the-dark collectibles; it has also created hologram versions, unusual dimension editions, and ones with precious stones attached; most releases are primarily in silver, but gold, silver with gold plating, and periodically platinum content have been part of the array
To appeal to an audience beyond the more conventional coin aficionados, the marketplace has been enlarged by two other recent categories:
- Dollar for dollar coins: initially beginning at $20 each, now $50, $100, and even $200 face value collectibles are available; anyone wanting to accumulate coins of notable face value without concern for paying a premium, possibly as conservative investment diversification, now has a number of options
- Special releases of themes, anniversaries based on history, or cultural icons, such as
- the NHL, insects, the seasons, architecture, dinosaurs, birds
- memorable events and professions
- various incarnations of the maple leaf
- the 50th anniversary of the Canadian flag
- Outer space, climate, and landscapes
- Looney Tunes characters, and currently, comic book superheroes plus the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek TV series
The RCM has also taken to distributing special series from Mints of other countries.
From basic offerings retailing under $30 to gold coins over $10,000 (with much lower face values, but with hope and expectation of potential appreciation over time) these coins not only have intrinsic value but also provide practical, and compact, gifts whether to collectors or not.
No wonder the marketplace for offerings from the Royal Canadian Mint looks like a growing treasure of opportunity.